Traditional head of Tawari community in Kogi State, the Aguma of Tawari, 78-year-old Alhaji Yusuf Idris Tawari has recounted how he lost 26 people, including his driver and Chief Iman of the community to yet to be identified gunmen that attacked the community on January 2 this year.
Yusuf, who spoke when members of the Mental Health and Wellness Initiative, a Non-Governmental organization visited the village to assess the extent of the effect of the attack, said: “I lost 25 people in one night and my driver who died in Abuja making the 26th casualty. The chief Imam of the community was writing his sermon for the Friday prayer when they broke into his room and shot him at close range. Look at the village almost completely deserted. The few people left are living in fear.
“They burnt down my house and my car. My driver died in Abuja from the thick fumes inhaled from the inferno. I escaped by the grace of God.
“We are traumatized and that’s why I was excited about the news of your coming to see the carnage”.
The leader and founder of the NGO, Salihat Badamasiuy alson visited the Administrator of Kogi local government council, Barrister Musa Muhammed Tanko at the council secretariat in Koton Karfe where she condemned the gruesome attack.
She appealed to the local authorities and other spirited individuals to offer support to the community.
“We are here to spare our thought for the people of Tawari community. The ugly incident is ungodly, wicked and condemnable as it has left a permanent scar on the psyche on the residents of that community.
“They need every moral support they can get to heal them of the trauma and depression this unfortunate event has caused them.”
Ms. Salihat promised that her NGO would collaborate with willing authorities to provide relief to the people of Tawari.
That was even as the council administrator commended the gesture by the group and pledged his support in areas his office would be needed to bring smile on the face of the people again.
“I must commend your decision to take this bold step in sparing thought for the people of Tawari. You have taken a giant stride, working on healing the psyche of this people and as the chief executive of the local council, I pledge my support in whatever capacity required of me to bring smile to the face of the sad people of Tawari community.”
The group also paid homage to His Royal Majesty, Alhaji Abdulrazak Gambo IsaKoto, Ohimege Igu of KotonKarfe.
While thanking the group for the rare focus on the mental well-being of the society, the Ohimege described the visit as timely as it was strategic.
“Tawari is not only a remote community but has a rich history. What happened there can only be likened to a terrorist attack on the defenseless people.”
It was gathered that over 50 houses, including the chief’s palace, clinic, the oldest church in the community and school buildings among others were burnt down while others are ridden with bullets or vandalized.
Alhaji Yusuf said that he has been suing for peace and has repeatedly warned the youth of the community against reprisal attack even as he commended the government of Kogi State for the prompt response to the incident.
The village was attacked under the cover of darkness as it is yet to witness electricity. Most of the power generators on which the residents depend to light up their homes have been burnt down. Motorbikes which serve as the major source of income to the youth were burnt in large numbers.
The Tawari chief, Alhaji Yusuf appealed to government at all levels, civil society organizations and resourceful individuals to come to their aid in their spirited effort towards rebuilding the community and facilitate the return of the displaced people.
Although many have since condemned the wicked attack, one month after, no suspect has been arrested and not much has been done to alleviate the consequences of the attack on the community.
Chief Tawari thanked the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for the relief materials donated and promised to ensure judicious sharing of the items to the affected people.